Three years ago at this time Jack Del Rio was released as Jaguars head coach and the Raiders were looking to hire their first head coach of the new regime. At the time, it almost seemed like a merger that almost seemed like too ideal not to at least receive serious consideration. And yet, it didn't happen.
Del Rio had been a head coach for nine years in Jacksonville and had taken the Jaguars to the playoffs twice, but no farther. And nine years is a long time for an NFL team to stick with as head coach who hasn't taken them to a championship.
Even still, being a head coach for that long can be a grind. And to go from that to taking on a team which was clearly on the brink of a long rebuild, as the Raiders were, would not have been the wisest move for Del Rio, even if it would mean taking over the team of which he was always a fan.
Del Rio grew up in the Bay Area and said in his press conference that even through all of his years playing and coaching in the NFL over the past 30 years, he has been "a lifelong Raider".
Becoming the Raiders head coach may be his dream job, but the chaos the organization was about to face would have been a nightmare for him. Like taking your first trip to Disney World in the middle of a hurricane.
He was the right coach for the right team, but it was neither the right time, nor the right situation. And Del Rio just didn't have the energy to take it on.
"After nine years I needed a little rejuvenation really," said Del Rio. "I feel like the last three years have been beneficial for me being re-energized, rejuvenated, whatever you'd like to call it. I was able to kind of collect myself, go through some of the things that went well, that didn't go well. The process, make sure my thoughts going forward were to mot make mistakes again where I made mistakes and to do the things I did well before even better. Just basically grow from the experience and hopefully be able to utilize that knowledge and apply it now with this great opportunity."
The opportunity in Denver was far too good to pass up, really. He would return to coach the defense under John Fox as he had in Carolina prior to becoming the Jaguars head coach. The defense was led by some young stars including Von Miller and the offense was going to be led by Peyton Manning. That's a championship formula and one that nearly did result in a championship.
Meanwhile in Oakland, the Raiders were so far over the salary cap that big cuts would have to be made with little to no money available to fill those empty roster spots. It was a sinking ship. The Raiders called Del Rio to gauge his interest, but the conversation didn't go much farther than that.
"I did have a conversation with Jack Del Rio," said Reggie McKenzie. "He had gotten released. We did have a couple of conversations over the phone in 2012. At that time, when he got released in my evaluation let's wait. When you talk about getting released right off the bat three years ago that was my mentality. He finished his first time head coaching period. I was looking for something new at that time."
The Raiders had little choice at the time than to go for something "new". Premium head coaching candidates weren't exactly lining up to jump onboard this Titanic maiden voyage. The young first mate of that vessel became Dennis Allen.
His firing could have happened last off-season, but Reggie stuck with his guy and four games into the season, the inevitable happened. He was fired, the Raiders rode out a 3-13 season under Tony Sparano, and now it's time for another new beginning.
Along with the Raiders being in a much better place, the job of head coach of this team is not seen as a death march. Both sides were now in a position to have that interview that never occurred three years ago when they first had the chance.
It's the right team, the right coach, at the right time. Now he's livin' the dream.